N.Zelanda: NZ potato industry warns of ’unintended consequences’
These ’unintended consequences’ could become a reality because the water reform plans could put a block on crop rotation that is essential for the potato business to survive.
The government’s Action Plan for Healthy Waterways would immediately halt land intensification by order.
It would then install long term restrictions on intensification via local government rules from 2025 onwards.
Potatoes New Zealand said it supported the principle of clean waterways, but chief executive Chris Claridge said the way this was being proposed was a huge threat: "We need the flexibility to be able to lease land and rotate [crops]. If we don’t, and crops are trapped within a region or a zone, we have a problem, because we need to rotate constantly to avoid the build-up of soil borne diseases."
Mr Claridge said potato growers usually avoided the build-up of pathogens by working their way through a series of leased paddocks year by year, and not returning to the original field for 10 years. But if any one of those leased paddocks was grassland, then the owners could be prevented under intensification rules from offering it to a potato grower.
This might make banks unwilling to lend money to potato growers if they feared they were facing a dead end. It could also play havoc with long-term leasing arrangements that prudent farmers signed as a matter of course.